Monthly Archives: February 2023

Posted In: Crossings

Riverside River Cruises with Gregor Gerlach

The former Crystal Mozart, now the Riverside Mozart

In case you haven’t heard, there is a new kid on the block in the luxury river cruise space. Riverside Luxury River Cruises made a soft debut to the travel advisor scene over the last few weeks putting their owner, Gregor Gerlach, center stage to talk about his latest hospitality industry project. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Outposts

Beehives in front of traditional wooden cottage in Budy, small village located in Bialowieza Forest national aprk in Poland

By European standards, Poland is quite a big country. Of course, places like Cracow, Warsaw, and Auschwitz death camp are definitely worth visiting, but Poland has much more to offer. Here is the list of the top 8 off-beaten-path places to make you fall in love in this Central-European country! Read the rest of this entry »

They Call Me “Grumpish”

I tell a lie. Not everybody calls me Grumpish. Just those close enough to know that this affectionate nickname came from my nephew’s a three-year-old daughter. I asked Mila’s mother what her small fry just said when looking me square in the eye. “I think she just called you Grumpish.” And I remain “Grumpish” five years later and hopefully for many years to come.

One of my all-time Christmas gifts was a t-shirt with the word “Grumpish” scrolled across the chest. And here comes today’s message.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Last week, I discussed why you might want to start a podcast. And as promised, this week, I will discuss some of the steps to get you started. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Meet Oliver A.I.

There is a lively, ongoing conversation about the role of “artificial intelligence” (AI) in article and blog writing. While there is little doubt that ChatGPT can be incredibly useful as a tool for generating content, some people object to using it for a variety of reasons. One common concern is that using AI-generated content may be seen as a disingenuous outsourcing of your writing to a machine, leading to a lack of authenticity or originality in the content produced by AI. Others point to the potential for errors or inaccuracies in the output generated by AI.

All of this is true, there are risks involved in new technologies. It is also true that the paragraph above was written with ChatGPT. I want to emphasize it was written “with” ChatGPT, which is different from it being written “by” ChatGPT. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

If there’s one thing Lisa Watson knows after 19 years in the travel industry, it’s just how much there is to know. On Valentine’s Day, she launched a project she hopes will help travel professionals by pulling all that information together in one giant free educational resource.

FyndTravel—”where travel pros belong”—has been her mission since 2018, when she left Oasis Travel Network to go out on her own. Interrupted by Covid, she launched a beta of the FyndTravel website in 2022, and took it live just this month.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Did you know that many river cruise boats carry bicycles on board for guests to use? The bicycles are (or should be) well-maintained and capable of fitting guests of all sizes. Your ship often will have helmets and, of course, a liability form for you to fill out. If you’re squeamish about wearing a helmet that someone else has worn, carry your personal bike helmet. Simply strap it onto the outside of your carry-on luggage so that it doesn’t take up precious space inside your luggage. Or pack a foldable helmet. You’ll need to ask your local bike shop or do a web search for those.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Supplier Profile

Integrated Booking and Payments With WeTravel

Founded in 2016, WeTravel was built to support travel businesses by digitizing and simplifying the travel booking and payment process. Now used by more than 3,000 travel companies—to transact with nearly 500,000 travelers and thousands of suppliers, annually— the platform has revolutionized how the travel industry manages their businesses. With a suite of integrated SaaS and FinTech solutions that fit into an intuitive platform, WeTravel enables businesses to increase sales conversion, trim administration time, and manage fund transfers from travelers and to suppliers globally.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Suppose you’re a small travel agency or solo advisor who wants to ramp up your business quickly and inexpensively. One of the best ways of doing this is to focus on forming affinity groups embedded within cruises or tours. The idea is to identify potential travelers with something in common and allow them to travel somewhere special with like-minded folk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

United Family Seating screen on phone

United Airlines by March will roll out a new family seating policy designed to seat children under 12 next to an adult for free, even if that means giving them a preferred seat at an economy price.

A new automated seat map feature announced this week finds adjacent seats at the time of booking, looking first for Economy seats but automatically upgrading customers to Preferred Seats if needed. If no adjacent seat is available, the new policy lets customers switch for free to a flight to the same destination that has adjacent seats in the same cabin.

“We’re focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat,” said chief customer officer Linda Jojo, adding that the carrier “looks forward to rolling out more family-friendly features this year.”

The airlines increasingly have come under fire from families—and lately from politicians—for charging extra to seat everyone together. President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address earlier this month vowed, “We’ll prohibit airlines from charging $50 roundtrip for a family just to be able to sit together. Baggage fees are bad enough. Airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of baggage.”

United Polaris®, United First Class® and Economy Plus® seats are not part of the free family seating policy change.

Posted In: Crossings

Explora Cruise Line ship

Even as it grows its footprint in the US market, MSC is making a $3.75 billion investment in the luxury cruise segment with its new Explora Journeys line, focused on exclusive access for small, intimate groups, from two to 25 guests, and a slower pace of travel.

The first of six Explora ships is ready prime time, and this week announced the first eight itineraries in its Northern European Inaugural Journeys Collection. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Swiss flag on the top of Mannlichen (Jungfrau region, Bern, Switzerland)

Three TTC Tour Brands—Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold—are teaming with Tourism Switzerland on a giant international fam trip, the first of four TTC expects to offer this year.

Top-selling travel advisors are invited to apply for the Switzerland Fam, a seven-day, all-expense-paid trip that includes a hike through the Swiss Alps and a ride on the glacier express from St. Moritz to Zermatt, and highlights sustainable travel efforts through TTC’s MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences.

Three more fams are in the works for this spring, Melissa DaSilva, president of TTC Tour Brands North America, told TRO, “including a global fam to the American South, a fam exclusively for independent travel consultants to Italy and a fam specifically for Insight Vacations to Croatia. We’re very excited to be offering so many opportunities to our advisors to not only show our appreciation but also to help them learn more about our products and better sell them to their customers.”

Ten applicants from the United States and four from Canada, along with 21 from other countries,  will be invited on the seven-day Switzerland trip—those who “have truly earned their spot” based on sales, DaSilva said.

The trip will depart July 22, with stops in Lucerne, St. Moritz, Zermatt and Geneva, and include programs from the four brands, including an Insight Vacations VIP dining experience at Drehrestaurant Rondorama.

The MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences include visits to the Swiss Transportation Museum and the Alpinum Culinarium to learn about rare fruits, a dinner at sustainable restaurant Schäfer Stube, and a lunch and wine tasting at Lake Geneva where travel advisors will learn about Switzerland’s wine ecosystem.

Accommodations will reflect those experienced by guests of each brand, including the Astoria Hotel in Lucerne, the Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski in St. Moritz, and the Mirabeau Hotel.

DaSilva noted that the goal is to showcase both the four brands and why sustainable travel is so important to them in hopes “the advisors on this trip will learn what makes this an important aspect of the travel experience with TTC Tour Brands.”

TTC Tour Brands CEO Gavin Tollman and representatives from Tourism Switzerland will join the group for a final dinner.

TTC Tour Brands last year hosted its first-ever fam trip to Jordan. It, too, was meant “to showcase MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences and educate advisors on how to sell these experiences to their customers,” DaSilva said.

Advisors from around the world interested in applying for the Switzerland trip should go to

TTC Tour Brands is part of The Travel Corporation (TTC), a 100-year-old international group of 40 brands, including vacation packages, boutique river cruising, luxury hotels , and safaris.

Posted In: Top Headlines

Falcons Resort

It may not be DisneyWorld, but the Dominican Republic in March will see a $350 million “entertainment-based resort complex” under a new joint venture between Meliá Hotels International and Falcon’s Beyond.

The first property in the Falcon’s Resorts by Meliá brand, the Falcon’s Resort by Meliá All Suites Punta Cana will be a $350 million entertainment destination that includes two existing Meliá properties, Paradisus Grand Cana and The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, with a combined total of 622 rooms, plus Katmandu Park Punta Cana, “the first world-class theme park in the Caribbean.”

It features several patented ride technologies, interactive storytelling, and “captivating mega-park-level attractions,” plus entertainment venues, restaurants and shopping.

The complex will be the first under the joint venture, which plans to create a “resortainment hospitality experience that will seamlessly blend premium resort amenities with extraordinary entertainment experiences”in “prime leisure markets across the globe,” the company said.

The park features attractions like Voyage of the Fathom Wanderer, a suspended theater, and Legend of the Desirata, a 4D dark ride, as well as themed dining venues, an outdoor ropes course, indoor climbing courses, and a 36-hole mini golf course. The centerpiece, the Wheel of Infinite Wonder, is a themed carousel with figures inspired by the characters from The Hidden Realms, a complimentary fan loyalty and online game platform.

Tickets to the park start at $120 per adult and $85 per child.

The first Punta Cana theme park is in Mallorca, Spain; plans are in the works to build more in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and Mexico.

Although there may not be any “do-overs” or mulligans in business these days, there is certainly time and rationale for “pressing on.”

Allow me to explain.

I recently sent out a blast email promoting my new series of “More-On” books.  What better way to start promoting you, or your business, than by telling people you are alive and ready for action.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

When it comes to travel, we are the experts. We provide valuable insights and recommendations to our clients based on years of experiences—some good and some bad. Five years ago, I bet you had heard about podcasts but really didn’t know about them.  Today? They are everywhere. With the meteoric rise in the popularity of podcasts, we have a unique opportunity to reach a wider audience and share our expertise in a new and engaging format.

Here are some reasons why a travel agent should begin a podcast: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Deck Plans

Three (Or Four) In A Cabin: Will It Float?

For decades, river cruising has largely been a pursuit for couples; families and solo cruisers need not apply. But that old way of thinking is quickly going out the door, as river cruise lines move to court multi-generational families and solo cruisers eager to try their hand at the rivers of Europe.

The problem is that river cruise vessels are restricted physically by height, length and width due to the rivers they must traverse. The ships can only be so tall, so long and so wide. That, in turn, means that staterooms must also have finite dimensions. You can add another person to that existing space – but unless you’re booking at the suite level, things are going to get very cramped, very quickly. Unless, that is, you come up with some creative ideas, which a handful of cruise companies have done.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The Rosen Report

In a previous life, when Sue Peyer was director of quality for Cox Communications, part of her job was to monitor customer service calls. The company used Israeli software that turned the dialogue into text, so she could read the transcribed conversations in a Word document.

When ChatGPT came out, Peyer was curious to see how the technology had advanced and how this latest development in artificial intelligence (AI) could help her run her travel agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Soundings

AMAWaterways river cruise ship

Looking to its profitable and resurgent group business, AmaWaterways on Tuesday announced an extension of its bonus commission program and its online AmaAcademy for travel advisors selling groups.

SVP Sales Alex Pinelo told TRO, “During the Covid period, there was a lot of uncertainty about when travel would resume and what restrictions might apply when it did. Travel advisors had a difficult time promoting new groups because of that uncertainty. Read the rest of this entry »

TourRadar, a company that aggregates 2,500 international adventure operators offering 50,000 tour products on a single booking platform, has made its network of operators commissionable to the retail travel community. The company is offering 12 percent commission till June 30 as part of its efforts to invite potential travel advisor partners to its network.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Carnival Elation cruise ship

A rejuvenated Carnival Elation departed its home port of Jacksonville this weekend, sporting a colorful facelift and other enhancements after its dry dock.

Elation now sports the red, white, and blue hull design that has been rolling out across the fleet since Mardi Gras debuted in 2021, as well as a redesigned Cloud 9 Spa, complete with new steam and sauna rooms. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Top Headlines

Machu Picchu

The Peruvian citadel of Machu Picchu will reopen on Wednesday, February 15. Limited train service already has begun and nearby Cusco and the Sacred Valley are fully open.

The popular site, built in the 15th century, was abruptly closed almost a month ago due to civil unrest in the area. Protesters blocked dozens of roads and placed rocks on the train tracks serving the mountain, stranding more than 400 people.

Tickets are available on the official website, Machupicchu – Official Website.